Here’s How A Six-Pack Of Craft Beer Ends Up Costing $12

In general, a craft beer is always going to be more expensive than a macro beer. Part of this is due to basic ingredient cost. Craft brewers generally use more of them for a beer and don’t cut corners like replacing barley malt with rice or corn. But more than half of the cost of craft beer goes to distribution and retailer’s margins.

Distribution costs come about because of the way beer gets to a consumer in the US. Prior to Prohibition, breweries in the US followed a model similar to what are called “tied houses” in the UK. That is, the breweries owned the bars where their beer was sold and strictly controlled which beers could be served there. In the aftermath of Prohibition, a system was set up whereby breweries sold to middlemen called distributors who then move the beer to retail outlets, bars and restaurants. When craft brewing started, this made it difficult for new breweries to enter a market. They were forced to deal with distributors who saw their relatively small volumes as not worth their time and would either not bother or marginalize craft beers compared to the large volume macros. It took a while before many states passed laws that allowed craft brewers to sell their own beers at the brewery (in addition to just offering tastings). Even today, getting in with a distributor still means life or death for a craft brewery.

So visit your local craft brewery and buy their beer there. You’ll save money and give them all the profits. Win-win!

The “skills gap” is a myth that won’t go away

Krugman calls it a zombie idea, “an idea that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die.” It’s the “skills gap”, a myth that says the reason jobs go unfilled is because workers don’t have the right skills.

Think about what we would expect to find if there really were a skills shortage. Above all, we should see workers with the right skills doing well, while only those without those skills are doing badly. We don’t.

Yes, workers with a lot of formal education have lower unemployment than those with less, but that’s always true, in good times and bad. The crucial point is that unemployment remains much higher among workers at all education levels than it was before the financial crisis. The same is true across occupations: workers in every major category are doing worse than they were in 2007.

FDR: King of All Media

When FDR became president he was faced with an economic depression unprecedented in US (and ultimately world) history. Among the issues was a total lack of public confidence in the banking system that had resulted in a some banks going belly up as depositors demanded cash they couldn’t provide. Roosevelt turned to the hot new technology, radio, to talk directly to the American public and explain what was going on with the banks.

The Lava Lamp Just Won’t Quit

The surprising origins and lasting presence of the Lava Lamp. Despite what you might have thought, it pre-dated the psychedelic era but fit in perfectly when the 60s really took off.

Although they’re still being made today if you have one of the older models or see one at a garage sale they’re valuable to collectors. Of course, you just might like it enough to  keep it to yourself. Groovy, man.

So I went and had LASIK

This is one of my infrequent personal posts, feel free to skip if you don’t care about such things.

Some background first. I started wearing glasses when I was about 10 years old after being forced by my school to do so. Although I was slightly nearsighted the majority of my visual issues were due to astigmatism. Accordingly, I was advised to wear them even when reading. I didn’t quite understand why but it did help. By the time I was entering high school I was wearing them almost all the time.

Fast-forward to 1984. I woke up one morning to discover my glasses had broken for second time in a week. I told my wife that we were going to the mall and getting contacts, which is exactly what we did. I started with soft lenses, tried hard contacts for a while and eventually went back to soft lenses. The hard contacts were bifocal and were very effective but not very comfortable. When I went back to soft lenses I switched to what is called “monovision” – a close up lens in one eye and a distance lens in the other. Not everyone can handle it but it worked for me.

Fast-forward again to the beginning of the year. The lenses I wore were discontinued. I tried a couple of different ones but nothing worked. I hung on with my last pair and contemplated an online search for more.

Six months before that my wife floated the idea of LASIK as a great solution to my vision issues but I was uncomfortable with the concept of laser beams in my eyes and I dismissed the suggestion. But then a friend at karate had gotten it and was more than pleased with the results. I started to change my mind.

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